New releases 1/25/22

Top Hits
The Dry (crime/drama, Eric Bana. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Nicolas Rapold’s New York Times review: “The many red herrings and the dark-secret finale recall the reliable, compulsive appeal of a page-turner, although the tensions don’t always feel fully translated to the rhythms and demands of a film. But Bana might just be set to responsibly sort through more messy crimes: ‘The Dry’ was only the first in [author Jane] Harper’s series of Aaron Falk stories.” Read more…)

Annie Live! (made for TV musical, Celina Smith. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 76. From Noel Murray’s New York Times review: ““Last night’s three-hour ‘Annie Live!’ on NBC — directed by Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski, with choreography by Sergio Trujillo — did not radically reimagine or reinterpret the original show, adapted by the book-writer Thomas Meehan, lyricist Martin Charnin and composer Charles Strouse from Harold Gray’s long-running comic strip, ‘Little Orphan Annie.’ But neither did this version disappoint in any significant way.” Read more…)

Cicada (LGBTQ drama/romance, Matthew Fifer. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. From Kyle Turner’s New York Times review: “‘Cicada,’ which is directed by Fifer and Kieran Mulcare, is a muted affair, with even its diffused and desaturated palette conveying a sense of understatement. Ben and Sam’s blossoming romance does a lot of telling and little showing. While there’s the occasional amusingly idiosyncratic section of dialogue that sounds like a series of stagily poetic non-sequiturs, much of the couple’s bonding feels straightforward and unremarkable.” Read more…)

New Blu-Ray & 4K Ultra HD
Citizen Kane (4K & Blu-Ray, 1941, drama, Criterion Collection, Orson Welles. Rotten Tomatoes: 99%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 100, Must See. From Bosley Crowther’s 1941 New York Times review: “Within the withering spotlight as no other film has ever been before, Orson Welles’s ‘Citizen Kane’ had is world première at the Palace last evening. And now that the wraps are off, the mystery has been exposed and Mr. Welles and the RKO directors have taken the much-debated leap, it can be safely stated that suppression of this film would have been a crime. For, in spite of some disconcerting lapses and strange ambiguities in the creation of the principal character, ‘Citizen Kane’ is far and away the most surprising and cinematically exciting motion picture to be seen here in many a moon. As a matter of fact, it comes close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood.” Read more…)

A Hard Day’s Night (4K & Blu-Ray, 1964, exuberant jukebox musical, Criterion Collection, The Beatles. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 96, Must See. From Bosley Crowther’s 1964 New York Times review [requires login]: “This is going to surprise you—it may knock you right out of your chair—but the new film with those incredible chaps, the Beatles, is a whale of a comedy. I wouldn’t believe it either, if I hadn’t seen it with my own astonished eyes, which have long since become accustomed to seeing disasters happen when newly fledged pop-singing sensations are hastily rushed to the screen. But this first fiction film of the Beatles, entitled ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’ which exploded last night at the Astor, the Trans-Lux East and other theaters hereabouts, has so much good humor going for it that it is awfully hard to resist.” Read more…)

Menace II Society (4K & Blu-Ray,1993, drama, Criterion Collection, Tyrin Turner. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 76. From Stephen Holden’s 1993 New York Times review: “What is clear, however, is that ‘Menace II Society,’ which was directed by the Hughes Brothers, 21-year-old twins who were born in Detroit and whose previous credits include music videos for Digital Underground and KRS-One, is a very flashy debut. Where earlier films with similar settings, like John Singleton’s ‘Boyz N the Hood’ and Matty Rich’s ‘Straight Out of Brooklyn,’ have offered a somber, almost elegiac view of inner-city life, ‘Menace II Society’ has a manic energy and at times a lyricism that recall movies like ‘Mean Streets’ and ‘Bonnie and Clyde.’” Read more…)

The Red Shoes (4K & Blu-Ray, 1948 musical, Criterion Collection, Anton Walbrook. Rotten Tomatoes: 97%, Certified Fresh. From Bosley Crowther’s 1948 New York Times review: “Over the years, there have been several movies in which attempts have been made to capture the spirit and the beauty, the romance and the enchantment of the ballet. And, inevitably, in these pictures, ballets have been performed, a few times with charm and sincerity but more often—and unfortunately—without. However, there has never been a picture in which the ballet and its special, magic world have been so beautifully and dreamily presented as the new British film, ‘The Red Shoes.’ Here, in this unrestricted romance, which opened at the Bijou yesterday, is a visual and emotional comprehension of all the grace and rhythm and power of the ballet.” Read more…)

Mulholland Dr. (4K & Blu-Ray, 2001, mystery/suspense dir. by David Lynch, Criterion Collection, Naomi Watts. Rotten Tomatoes: 84%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 85, Must See. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Stephen Holden’s Times review: “While watching ‘Mulholland Drive,’ you might well wonder if any film maker has taken the cliché of Hollywood as ‘the dream factory’ more profoundly to heart than David Lynch. The newest film from the creator of ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ is a nervy full-scale nightmare of Tinseltown that seizes that concept by the throat and hurls it through the looking glass.” Read more…)

Titane (France, horror, Vincent Lindon. Rotten Tomatoes: 88%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 75. From A.O. Scott’s New York Times review: “Awarded the top prize in Cannes this year, ‘Titane’ consolidates a filmmaking style based on visceral shock, grisly absurdism and high thematic ambition. Violence is often played for comedy. Cruelty collides with tenderness. Eroticism keeps company with disgust. Through the stroboscopic aggression of Ducournau’s images you can glimpse ideas about gender, lust and the intimacy that connects people and machines.” Read more…)

New Foreign DVDs
Moffie (South Africa, war/drama, Kai Luke Brummer. Rotten Tomatoes: 90%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 69. From Glenn Kenny’s New York Times review: “[Kai Luke] Brummer, who bears a passing resemblance to a young Peter O’Toole, is attractive and enigmatic as a young man finding himself in less-than-encouraging circumstances. The movie’s story line, adapted from a 2006 novel of the same name by André Carl van der Merwe, keeps its feet on the ground, rarely allowing the characters to express desire beyond implying it. Because, as the movie shows, in the world of this army, merely exchanging a glance with another soldier could kick up enough homophobic fear and rage to start a riot.” Read more…)

Saint-Narcisse (Canada, LGBTQ romance/comedy, Felix-Antoine Duval. Rotten Tomatoes: 100%. Metacritic: 70. From Teo Bugbee’s New York Times review: “‘Saint-Narcisse’ is a handsomely produced film with sincere performances, lush cinematography and a classical score. Anarchic energy zings out in moments of overemphasis — when the music swells too loudly, when the dialogue comments too closely on the themes. But for the most part, [director Bruce] LaBruce tries to maintain fidelity to the idea that camp is best performed straight.” Read more…)

Gomorrah: Season 3 (Italy, gangster drama series, Marco D’Amore)
Singapore Sling (Greece, 1990, cult/extreme, Panos Thanassoulis)

New Classic DVDs (pre-1960)
Tortilla Flat (1942, drama based on John Steinbeck novel, Spencer Tracy. Metacritic: 70. From Bosley Crowther’s 1942 New York Times review: “As genial a bit of propaganda for common vagrancy as has ever been shown, at least at the Radio City Music Hall, reached the screen of that theatre yesterday in the shape of Metro’s “Tortilla Flat.” It is, of course, the film version of John Steinbeck’s delightful novel about some tramps, which had been kicking around for years waiting for just such a production as this. And now, with Spencer Tracy, John Garfield, Akim Tamiroff and a batch of raffish gents playing the lusty paisanos—the work-shirking, wine-guzzling heroes of the tale—it emerges as a winning motion picture and a deterrent to respectable enterprise.” Read more…)

The Moon and Sixpence (1959, made for TV drama based on Somerset Maugham novel, Laurence Olivier. From Jack Gould’s 1959 New York Times review [requires log-in]: “[Laurence Olivier’s] portrayal was a work of towering accomplishment, a searching study of a genius that combined callousness, brutality, and, finally, an inspirational beauty that was entirely overwhelming. It was a majesyic profile of the complexity of man, a human being’s relentless pursuit to find his own soul, that culminated in the recognition of his dependency upon a Divine design. ‘The Moon and Sixpence’ wad the production of David Susskind, who against the indifference of some elements of the TV industry persisted in his determination to see the work done; his reward is the finest production of his career in television.” Read more…)

Joy of Living (1938, musical, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.)

New Documentaries
Time (race, American justice system, Criterion Collection. Rotten Tomatoes: 98%, Certified Fresh. Metacritic: 91. A New York Times Critic’s Pick. From Lisa Kennedy’s Times review: “Substantive and stunning, the documentary ‘Time’ delivers on the title’s promise of the monumental as well as the personal. In telling the story of Fox Rich’s fight to keep her family intact — raising six sons, making a living, doing activist work — while her husband, Rob, served a prison sentence of 60 years, the director Garrett Bradley depicts with rattling and tender regard America’s thorny gestalt of the individual thrown against the backdrop of systemic inequality.” Read more…)

Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road (music, bio, Beach Boys, Brian Wilson. Rotten Tomatoes: 94%. Metacritic: 80. From Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review: “‘Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,’ directed by Brent Wilson (no relation), takes the form of yet another classically structured overview of Brian Wilson’s career. Only this one cuts back and forth between the saga of Wilson and the Beach Boys and a ‘Carpool Karaoke’-style conversation between Brian, still hale and hanging in there with his tentative, blunted, anxiety-ridden, doggedly sincere approach to everyday experience, and Jason Fine, an editor at Rolling Stone magazine, who met Wilson during the course of doing a feature on him in the mid-’90s.” Read more…)